Within just a few years, a growing number of surgeons expect to be able to transplant cells, tissues, and organs from baboons, pigs, and other animals into humans as accepted therapy for a number of life-threatening conditions and diseases. Driven by scientific innovation and powerful medical need, the field of cross-species transplantation, or xenotransplantation, is moving ahead with several ground-breaking experimental human procedures this year, and more expected in the near future.
EXERCISING RESTRAINT: Thomas E. Starzl has put the University of Pittsburgh xenotransplantation program onhold pending a better understanding of the problems.
At the same time, some scientists and surgeons are calling for caution and restraint as the pace of progress accelerates. As xenotransplantation--once considered a species of science iction--nears clinical reality, a number of far-reaching biomedical, social, and ethical questions will demand answers.
Infectious disease experts have raised public health warnings about new viruses with epidemic potential that...